Old route – new success in Lugano


It is 206 meters (676 ft) long and arguably the most significant lifeblood in the public transport system of Lugano, Switzerland. In operation since 1886, the funicular was completely rebuilt over the past two years. What remained is its great urban as well as touristic significance as the main link between Lugano’s center and train station.

More and more, urban cable transport systems are used in the big cities of this planet to try and solve mobility issues. The city of Lugano in southern Switzerland obviously already identified a traffic problem in the 19th century, solving it with a funicular in 1886. It has been linking Lugano’s center and its train station.

The significance of this funicular is demonstrated by the fact that until renovation work started in 2014, the two vehicles have transported more than two million passengers per year. Until “Skymetro“ at Zurich’s Kloten Airport was commenced operations, this was the highest number in all of Switzerland by far.



Mayor Roberto Ferroni, Direktor of TPL, rings the “GARAVENTA bell”, formally opening the funicular.


Custom-built vehicles


Important deciding factors for Trasporti Pubblici Luganesi SA (TPL) to award the contract to GARAVENTA were that company’s rich experience in implementing complex funicular projects as well as the fact that GARAVENTA had been providing maintenance and support for the old installation for years.


GARAVENTA was consequently commissioned with all project management and engineering work, with supply and installation of the complete electromechanical equipment and the two vehicles. The clearance outline of the line’s two tunnels, the limited space available between the houses and along the cathedral of Lugano did not leave much room to move.


Among other things, this resulted in a full-custom design of the two vehicles. To achieve the requested transport capacity, the capacity of the vehicles needed to be raised from 75 to 100 passengers per car.




An enthusiastic audience greets the new GARAVENTA funicular.

Redundant operation


When the line commenced operation in 1886, it was the first funicular in the world with a so-called Abt siding. The system developed by Roman Abt features double wheel flanges on the outer wheels and no flanges at all at the inner wheels has become the world standard for funiculars. Owing to the longer vehicles, the siding and the platforms in the upper and lower stations needed to be redesigned as well.


The new funicular is equipped with redundant drives and redundant control systems ensuring high availability. The funicular’s drive unit is still at the upper terminal that is situated next to the subway between platforms within Lugano’s train station. Construction work there needed to be aligned with renovation work of the train station itself.


Reopened December 11, December 2016, the Europe-wide start of a new public transport schedule period, Residents of and visitors Lugano have regained this vital link between the city center and the train station. The Lugano Piazza Cioccaro to Lugano Stazione FFS funicular plays an important role in the city’s everyday life as well as tourism. More than anything, it is a reliable means of transport. ah

Funicular Lugano

  • Principal: Trasporti Pubblici Luganesi SA
  • Line length: 206 m.
  • Vertical height: 50 m.
  • Maximum speed: 3,0 m/s
  • System capacity: 2.240 P/h
  • carriers: 2 cable cars 2 x 100 people
  • rope diameter: 25 mm
  • Car supplier: CWA
  • Rope supplier: Fatzer
  • Control supplier: SISAG